Dr Henna Vaiphei
Contd from previous issue
Emergence of new cultures
The influence of western cultures invented many new cultures in contradiction to the existing social norms which are still feel relevance by the community. It mostly affected the life style and wedding culture of the tribe. The love and respect of elders is vanishing due to the influence of western culture or globalisation. The traditional way of addressing elders with high respect is withering rapidly. In the past, elders were addressed by calling. He u, He pa, in Manipuri izamba, tamo, baba etc with high regard. Today, youngsters are addressing elders by name without any sign of respect. Excessive freedom availing to children below teenage is another new invented culture vastly practices not only among the Vaipheis but in the all societies in Manipur. Before, children were advised to obey their parents, but now parents are advised to obey their children. Specially, in the tribal society, children are advised to be treated according to their will.
This message is mostly advocated by the religious leaders like Reverences, Pastors, Heads of the churches etc. without knowing that excessive freedom given to children is a sin. In the Bible, the book of Proverbs clearly states ‘Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child, the rod of correction will drive it far from him’ (Chapter 22: 15) ‘Do not withhold correction from a child, for if you beat him, he will not die’ (Chapter23:13). Instead of giving correction with a rod, the use of rod is advised to be abandoned completely against the ethic of Christianity. Today, many children are beyond the control and afford of their parents and become the burden of the society. So, lack of discipline and healthy habits rampant the society causing many unwanted activities damaging the healthy social fabric of the society.
The wedding cultures of the present day are absolutely against the ethics of traditional way of marriage which are still practice in the Vaiphei society. For instance, exchange of shawls within the groom and bride parties at the time of sending off ceremony is not seen before. Wedding gown, costly dresses for witnesses and groom, cake cutting, church decoration, make-up, etc. are another uninvited supplemented cultures which created confusion and problem in the society. Before, wedding was performed with colourful traditional attires from which outsiders can easily be acquainted with the identity to which tribe the person in marriage belonged. The present culture of marriage is very expensive comparing to the traditional marriage.
The expenditure depends on the financial position of the family. So, a rich can spend lakhs of money at the time of marriage to make the occasion majestic and splendid. The grandness of marriage depends on the amount of money spent at the time of marriage. Marriage performed by following the new wedding cultures with the least expenditure is much expensive comparing to the ordinary traditional culture of marriage, which consecutively created a vast gap between the haves and have-nots in the society. The cost of wedding gown, dresses of groom and witnesses for sending off and wedding days, church and hall decoration, make up and cake cutting alone excluding the cost of feast, bride price etc is ranging from one to two lakhs of Rupees at the least which is beyond the afford of ordinary people in the society. Besides, the customary divorce-price of a lady which is one mithun, equal to Rs 50000/ in rupees is assumed irrelevant and instead a huge amount in terms lakhs is claimed at the time of divorce. All these cultures are unseen in the originality of the Vaipheis tradition but are invented to appease the sentiments the followers.
The above statements revealed that Christianity is instrumental in liberating the Vaipheis from the clutches of unethical primordial religion and taboos which suppressed the society for ages. In this context, nothing can replace the role of Christianity in transforming the Vaiphei society to the level of outside world. However, in spite of numerous blessings endowed by Christianity, many disadvantages incurred by western culture are seen in the Vaiphei society causing confusion and chaos leading to decline the uniformity and value of old cultures, traditions and identity. In today’s world, there is a renewed surge for reconstruction of past cultures and traditions by many groups of people. Groups or communities are in a race for consolidation of identity and unification based on shared cultures, traditions, history, and clan relationship. The present day society has become alienated from the past and there is a need for restructuring the past tradition and cultures for protecting from extinction. In such situation, restructuring the old cultures and traditions of the Vaipheis is vital. All should aware that losing culture means losing identity without which no community can survive. It is my humble appeal to all in general and the Vaipheis in particular to avoid adopting any activity or culture which can degrade the ethical values of traditional cultures leading to the extinction of identity.
The writer is from C-15, Zone-III, National Games Village